Thuddy top register?

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    unknown-user on #149292

    Hey everyone,

    I was making some recordings today when I suddenly realized how thuddy my top register (maybe the 2nd F above middle C and up) is compared to everything else. In the recordings the base is booming nicely and the mid range has a gorgeous sustain, but the top is just awful! (in comparison; it still

    kay-lister on #149293

    Hi Sam,

    Sounds like you might have dead strings up there.

    carl-swanson on #149294

    Sam- What kind of strings do you have up there? Gut or nylon? That could be one issue. The other is that that area of the instrument gets played much less than other areas and may not have broken in the same way. Why don’t you try playing up there a few minutes each day and see if that makes a difference. You could just stand at the harp and play chords and scales in the top two octaves. The third possibility is that the soundboard is just a little too thick up there and so what you have now is all you’re going to get.

    Karen Johns on #149295

    Could be the recording settings, especially if you are only noticing it when you hear the playback and not while you’re playing the harp. I’ve noticed when I record my harp it sounds different than what either I or my audience actually hear. Something about the mike seems to pick up the more strident overtones in those upper registers. When I amp my harp I really notice it too- I have to turn down the treble to almost zero to compensate.


    unknown-user on #149296

    The strings are nylon. I’ve actually noticed the thuddyness just when playing now that I’ve noticed it in the recordings… I think I will be changing all my strings in Dec., so hopefully I’ll figure it out by then.


    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149297

    Gut strings will be worse, not better. They sustain even less. The strings might be old or poor quality. It may be the acoustic environment in which you are recording. High notes need high ceilings in which to reverberate. Oddly, in my experience, it is the bass that supports the ringing of the high notes. How fresh are your wire strings? And, I would buy that bionic 23 I hear about.

    With nylon strings, the tone is greatly affected by the condition of your skin. Have your callouses developed a hard surface? You need to sand them lightly every week if you are practicing three hours a day or more. Use a very fine sandpaper, then rinse off your fingertips before playing.

    Your harp is relatively young. They used to take 15 years or more to develop in the top. Compensate for it, but don’t worry unless it’s just dead.

    unknown-user on #149298

    Yes, now that I’ve thought about it more, it occurred to me that the last time I switiched out all non-bass strings was just BEFORE I acquired this harp – so who knows how old these strings are? Many of them ARE new, however, because for a few months I was popping a few strings every week. A whole new set might just do the trick.

    My wires are new – I replaced them around new years.

    Also, I pay extremely close attention to the condition of my fingers because I have a terrible problem of biting the skin on my fingers. I’ve been stopping and starting for a while now, with each stop lasting longer, so my focus is often on my fingers. I find that my fingers form plates of hard skin rather than a single callous (this is almost certainly due to the finger biting) and these are detremental to the sound whereas a callous might not be so. To keep these in check, I file them often. To remedy the solution totally, I should take a long, complete break from the harp and let my fingers go back to their “natural state” before I try and get the callouses again. I find that soaking my fingers in water can be a temporary solution and rubbing them with olive oil is a better, albeit messier and longer process. The olive oil also has a somewhat subtle permanent effect…

    Its good to know that development in the top register takes so long.

    What is this bionic 23?


    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149299

    Harp Connection has a truly great 23 for sale right now. They are calling it Bionic.

    Wouldn’t it be better if you bit your nails? Biting the part you need is not helpful. You don’t need a break. The skin is always growing. You can use a lotion with urea to help shed the old skin. If the skin is bothering you because it is tight, the lotion may help. I prefer nivea soft now, or bag balm, but my skin is soft to begin with. Yours might be hard. You may be practicing too loud too much of the time. A Russian harpist I know did that and had hard surfaces to her callouses. You could sand most of them off, then rebuild them carefully, with no glissandi until they are strong.

    Wire strings start to dull around six months.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149300

    Oils are risky because they soak in, and can ooze out while playing, leading to greasy strings. Bag balm and the cream I mentioned are very absorbable.

    unknown-user on #149301

    Biting my fingers is not good. If you’d like to see the extent to which I would bite them if I didn’t control myself, please look up the disorder dermotophagia. Not good. The one time that I gave myself a proper break from playing of any kind in a long long time

    patricia-jaeger on #149302

    Saul and Sam,

    You may find Aloe Vera Gelly helpful overnight. Not only for hands but gentle in and on all parts of the body; it is absorbed deeper into the skin than many products. You can view and read about it at A 4 ounce tube is $4.00 at health and vitamin stores.

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